Friday, May 29, 2009

An Account of My Blessings (Which are Innumerable): An Update on May 29th, 2009

Dublin was a cool city with not much to do. To be honest, there were some great ministry opportunities there, but I missed out on most on account of seeing the sheets too late, and the last week I have been on the 8 to 12 watch, meaning I miss out on a lot. The city itself was incredibly diverse and rather nice (as I explained last update). In the center of the city was Trinity University, which housed a good number of students. The campus was gorgeous, but was very “touristy”. A few of us went to the school on an off day to use the rugby field, but for American Football. We had a blast and a local student of Trinity even played with us for a while. The only reason we were permitted to play was because it was exam week, so God offered yet another blessing to my life that I don’t deserve.

I also had an opportunity to go to a local guy’s house that is originally from Minnesota. Five of us Americans went to the house where he had prepared a delicious barbequed meal for us, complete with ranch. He was a pilot and was housed in Dublin, and was a part of an event we held on board. The time of fellowship was awesome, and we talked about everything ranging from sports to politics to religion. His family was very warm and incredibly nice, and it was yet another blessing from God.

Another thing that happened was kind of an accident. Clayton (USA), Fitzy (Australia), and I went to a nearby court to play a bit of basketball, hoping that some locals might want to play. After noticing the emptiness of the court, we decided to just play 21, but eventually some of the kids from the surrounding apartments joined us, at first just watching us, then talking to us. We eventually just got to hang around the kids for a while, talking about little things and playing with them. We returned a few days later to play some more, and some of the same kids returned, and some new ones showed up. We played with them for a few hours, and just hung out with them, giving them some needed attention. I eventually rolled my ankle pretty bad, so some prayer for healing would be cool.

The moral of the story here is that God blesses at every turn, if we choose to notice. So rejoice in suffering, and rejoice in glory. This is one lesson I am trying to pound into my head, and that wherever we may be, God is apparent through all of it if we just look for Him.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Land of Hate: Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Belfast is more of a war-torn country than I have seen. Parts remind me of Detroit, or even are what I’d imagine a place like Kosovo would look like. The biggest thing that still remains from all the years of conflict is the hate that still lies in the people’s hearts. The murals that decorate the city are harsh reminders of what happened in the name of religion. It’s a big surprise to me that more Irish people hate the idea of established religion or of faith at all. So many deaths amounted to so little. It’s hard for me to realize the full truths of that place, but I can share a few stories.
On a day off KC, Julia, and I were able to hang out with a couple of local guys (one of them had volunteered on the ship). On a rare day that boasted a clear sky, they drove us to Belfast Castle (again) and then took us to Cannok Castle, which is a real castle. It was closed, but the view of Belfast and the castle was glorious. After that they drove us to a part of town that was obviously torn, and showed us the enormous wall that was erected with the purpose of keeping peace between the Catholics and Protestants. It was huge, and made me wonder if it was larger than the Berlin Wall. After this they showed us to the place with a bunch of murals painted on the walls. One was a memorial to a man who had been killed by the IRA, and had a big picture of him with some crosses and things around it. One of the guys told us a story about how he had brought a group of kids here and one suddenly burst out in tears. The kid was in a blind rage because the huge memorial to this thug hit him to the core. Apparently, this guy had killed this kid’s uncle. The whole group had to go, and the kid never went back.
The next day, a group of us ventured to a nearby basketball/soccer court to play some basketball. As we were playing kids started walking by and looking suspiciously at us. Eventually they started to throw eggs onto the court. Clayton went to confront them and (to make a long story short) we ended up hanging out with them and playing soccer with them. One of the guys said they were just throwing eggs because they didn’t know us and had assumed we were Catholics. They then showed us around their part of town. We walked to another wall nearby, and they told us some stories of their childhood. When one of the guys was young, there was a celebration happening on his side of the wall, and a sniper was perched up on the other side, just shooting at people. Another guy was shot at when he was just playing with his friends when he was 10 or so. We ventured near to the catholic side, and some of the kids came and started taunting the leader we were hanging out with, and if we hadn’t walked away, would have done more probably. The hate has trickled down through the generations.
Belfast was such an awesome port to be in, and was a great blessing. The sail from there to Dublin was short lived, and I don’t recall if anything interesting happened: probably not. Dublin is such a cool city. I been out exploring most days, and tried to find the Red Wings game, but was unsuccessful. There are castles, and cathedrals, and the city is so much older than I am used to. There are also a ton of people from all over. I have a busy week ahead of me, with a volleyball game, basketball game, and a dinner with some local Americans.
One request from my end; one of my friends here is going home on account of medical problems, and if you could please pray for him, so he can return ASAP (his name is John).

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My Mommy...

When I was young we were side by side
Through thick and thin she held my hand
As I grew I changed, I was hardened
But she stayed just the same
I grew into a man and changed into a jerk
But she loved me like only the best mommy can
I drifted along the road and lost my way
But she was still at my side, she still holds my hand
The fleeting world has taken its toll on me
Life’s curveballs have kicked me in the face
Mistakes have created a torrent of shame
Misused trust has caused me to fly from love
Still today the scars of lashings bleed
But she bandages my heart
Her love surmounts all of the pain
She has mended my wounds and cradled me
I hate to think of who I’d be without her
I love to remember all the times we shared
And how she has forced me into growth
Unbeknownst to her, I truly admire her
Her strength is something Sampson couldn’t match
We’ve had our disputes and our tumbles
We’ve bickered and yelled
In hindsight it was pure foolishness
I wish I would have been closer
I wish I could appropriately display my love
I wish I could give her a hug just for a moment
But life has torn us apart as it does so often
And now is my time to grow
So that when I return I can be a man
A man that she can depend on (aside from dad)
A man that can be there when life is hard
A man that can appreciate her love
A son that can respect his mother
A son that can give his mom a gift money can’t buy
A son who can finally show his mommy how much he loves her
(Which is a lot)

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Something so amazing, so ridiculous
It can’t be fathomed fully by man
Can’t be founded emotionally by women
Understanding is aloof from all we study
Workers toil and musicians play
The melody never succeeds to display
The buildings never cease to dismay
Fear and trembling lead only to pain
Running leads down the ample path
While the children play on the narrow
Gold is piled in the banks until it hits the moon
All because we cannot understand
We are so deaf, so numb
To something so completely insane
So adventurous and full of pain
So much life resides within such death
So much freedom lies in bondage
Such a paradox is not complex at all
Such an enigma so easily solved
If it were as plain as day
We’d hide in the night
If it were a delectable goodie
We’d stick with our sardines
Such emancipation cannot be free
It must be paid for, like everything in our lives
So we bust out our wallets
We call for the check
But we missed the meal
We missed the point
We missed the grace
For all it takes is a breath
And then, freedom.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Headlong Into Growth: An Update on May 6th, 2009

The sailing back to existence was short lived. A lot of people got seasick, but I remained healthy. As we arrived into Belfast, Northern Ireland, I saw that this place is really as green as I have been told. We pulled safely into the harbour after a long time to get the lines right, and then immediately had a container of books that we had to get inside. This, along with the normal setting up of the gangways, didn’t take all day, and we even got off a little early. This gave me the opportunity to get out into town early and do a little exploring.

A group of us went out after dinner to see what the town had to offer to the eyes. The town is gorgeous, and there is a lot of history here. During the short walk, we stumbled by many old buildings and some gorgeous University campuses. Parts of the town seem to come straight from an older WWII movie, with the apartment complexes looking like they haven’t changed in 70 years. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to go back to some of those spots during the days yet, but I still have a few days left here.

On Wednesday, I had a chance to do something out of the box. I had an experience day that day, but wasn’t on any of the lists for events. So I took the opportunity at breakfast when a few people were talking of a Pastors breakfast event in which they needed help. I jumped at the opportunity (partly because if I didn’t, I’d have to work) and the next thing I knew I was a host for a local pastor. I met him (his name escapes me) while I was about to get breakfast and we exchanged greetings and kind of awkwardly stumbled into a conversation about how I liked it here. As we ate we talked about where we were coming from, what to do in Belfast, sports (of course), and other things. This man was one of the nicest guys I have talked to, and I only wish I had better conversational skill so that we could have talked more. One thing that hit me big was when he nonchalantly mentioned the passing of his wife a year ago. He seemed so at peace with God, and was perfectly fine talking about it. I couldn’t imagine the pain he experienced, as she battled with cancer prior to her death. Yet, after such a battle, this man was still on fire to show God’s love to people. Amazing.

I did get out on a couple more solitary adventures (mostly out of randomness mixed with impatience) and got to see more of the city. The pastor I mentioned earlier had told me that wall murals are a popular thing here, and I was able to experience this first hand, as all over the walls of the city are these beautiful works of art. Some may call them graffiti but I honestly love this form of art more than most. I also had a chance to finally go see a castle, which ended up not being much of the fortress I had always dreamed of; instead it was turned into a ridiculously expensive restaurant and antique shop. It was still a beautiful site, and sometime in the near future, my Facebook will have pictures of most of the things I’ve written about.

God has been at work in me as of late (since I decided to come actually), and lately I have been focusing on my own maturity. I am trying to learn how to put God before my struggles and shortcomings, but also to be fully comfortable with whom He made me. I have started to read another book which helps me grasp what my feeling a little more. I could dismiss the book as just “another guide to being a real man”, but I feel that learning how to use the tools God gave me is a huge part in the whole maturation process. I am trying to learn how to be passionate about things I love, since for so long I have tried to drain my life of passion this is proving quite difficult. I feel as though I am moving in a good direction at least, and have felt a peace and confidence I can’t explain. Thank God for this opportunity.